Miami star Jimmy Butler remains confident the Heat will win the NBA Eastern Conference Finals despite the Boston Celtics finishing 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.
Butler struggles to get away in 110-97 Game 5 lost, scored eight points in the first half and finished with 14 – his lowest-scoring game in the knockout stages. He sat out most of the fourth quarter..
“We have to play better,” Butler said. “Let’s start the game better, from the beginning, make it more difficult for them.
“They caught on from the start,” Butler added. “But we will always be optimistic, knowing we can and we will win this series. We will have to close it at home.”
Duncan Robinson led the Heat, which had led 3-0 in the previous series Celtics’ comebacks, with 18 points off the bench. Bam Adebayo scored 16 points but had 6 spins.
Kyle Lowry started points guard after Gabe Vincent was disqualified for an ankle sprain, scoring five points with four turns
Butler said the Heat have allowed their gunfights to affect the intensity of their defense.
“But that is easily fixable,” he said. “You just have to go out and play harder after the jump.”
The Heat, which won the NBA in 2006, 2012 and 2013, still need just one more win to reach the seventh NBA Finals.
The Celtics, the team with the most 17 NBA championships tied to the Los Angeles Lakers in history, last won them all in 2008 and were eliminated in last season’s championship series against the Golden State Warriors.
They are doing NBA history. No team has fought back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
The winners of the series will play Western Conference champions Denver Nuggets, who wiped out the Lakers in four games to reach the NBA Finals for the first time.
Derrick White, who scored 24 points to spur the Celtics breakaway, said they expect a formidable test in Miami on Saturday.
“The crowd will be in there. It won’t be easy,” he said. “It’s going to take 48 minutes of fighting, scratching, scratching and we have to find a way to win.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t care that two heavy losses have demoralized his team.
“Who cares about the mood?” Spoelstra said. “We have a creepy group. It’s a competitive series. You always expect things to be tough in the conference finals.
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